A new look for Allspice Abounds

The new look of Allspice AboundsWelcome to my updated creative space!  This blog was in desperate need of a facelift after several years of the old design, and I wanted to breathe some new life into this space from which I derive so much enjoyment.  I can only do so much in terms of re-design with this 100% free WordPress.com blog, but I’m happy with the new, more modern look.

The first thing you probably noticed is that everything is BIGGER!  My eyes still aren’t used to the huge change in scale, but it seems that blogs have been tending toward larger scale designs lately, and I decided to jump on the bandwagon.  The larger text is easier on my eyes (which don’t seem to be getting any younger, LOL), and I like having more width in the content area to display larger photos.  I’ll have to experiment with how large is too large for my less-than-professional photos, but I hope you’ll bear with me as I figure things out.

I also updated my Finished Project Gallery with larger photos, which I think is a welcome change from the thumbnails I had previously.  The page is now much longer in terms of scrolling, but it’s nice to be able to see the images a bit more clearly.

I’m still tweaking a few things here and there, so please let me know if you encounter any bugs or formatting issues.  I’m not an expert in blog design by any means, but I’ll do my best to fix any issues that arise.

I hope you enjoy the new look, or at the very least find it easier to read!  Have a great weekend, and Happy Valentine’s Day!  🙂

Merry Christmas from my home to yours

Merry Christmas from Allspice AboundsWishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas filled with love, joy, peace, and celebration.

There *may* have been some sewing-related gifts under my tree this year.  🙂  What sewing goodies did Santa leave for you?

 

Handmade Christmas tree 2014 (and San Francisco!)

Handmade Christmas tree 2014

The holiday season is upon us!  This past weekend John and I put up my miniature fiber-optic Christmas tree, complete with a slew of handmade ornaments that I’ve been using for the past few years.  I have to say, I love this little tree.  🙂  It’s been in my family for a few generations and holds a lot of great childhood memories, and I love the combination of the old tree with new handmade ornaments made by me.  To read all about the story behind this tree and how I made the various ornaments, check out my 2013 Christmas tree post.

Tree decorating this year included afternoon coffee and a fresh batch of lemon-raspberry cookies, not to mention the obligatory Christmas music in the background.  It was quite a delightful afternoon and has become a little tradition for John and me.  Since I’ve already blogged about the tree, today I’ll just share some pictures that I snapped of the finished 2014 version.  Enjoy!

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Handmade Christmas tree 2013

Christmas tree 2013 02

It’s that time of year again… time to bust out my miniature fiber-optic Christmas tree and load it up with handmade ornaments!  Have I ever mentioned how much I love this little tree?  Oh right, I have.  Well, I’m just going to do it again if that’s all right with everyone.  : )

This tree is particularly special to me because it’s the tree that my grandparents used to put up at their house in Brooklyn every year, where my family and I would gather for the holidays.  It’s the tree that Santa used to put my presents underneath as a kid, and it’s the tree that countless photos were taken with while my brother and I were growing up.  Such fond memories!  I love that it’s been in our family for so long, and I love that my grandmother passed it down to me.  The fact that it has psychedelic built-in fiber-optic decorations is just icing on the cake.

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The minimalist guide to stress-free craft blogging

I think I take a pretty laid-back approach to my blog in that I treat it solely as an extension of my hobby and an enjoyable way to spend my free time.  I have no desire to turn sewing into a career or gain a large following of potential customers or students.  If you think about it, taking this approach is extremely freeing, and it allows me to have fun with my blog without any worry or stress about what I should be doing.  I just do whatever I want.  : )

To keep things under control, I have a handful of self-imposed blogging rules that I think have served me well over the two years that I’ve had this little blog.  They’re simple and straightforward, and they’re surprisingly effective at keeping this blog firmly on the “life” side of my work/life balance.  If you take a similar approach with your blog, I hope you find my little guidelines useful.

The Minimalist Guide to Stress-Free Craft Blogging

1 – Blog because you love it.  If you don’t love it, don’t do it.

My blog is supposed to be fun and make me happy.  If for whatever reason I’m not feeling the bloggy vibe, I can take a break for as long as I want.  No big deal.

2 – Don’t treat your blog as your business (unless it actually IS your business).

Since my blog isn’t paying my rent, and I have no intention of trying to make that happen, I don’t let myself worry about the business-related aspects of blogging.  It takes time and effort to generate traffic, generate income (through ads or selling products), and brand yourself.  I’m not getting paid for my time, so I just don’t worry about this stuff.  Really.

3 – Set realistic expectations for yourself and your blog, and stick to them.

I purposefully don’t go out of my way to make this blog a masterpiece.  I’d rather spend that time on my sewing projects!  I don’t stress about professional-looking photos and just use whatever camera I happen to have.  I write in a conversational tone and don’t worry about crafting beautiful prose.  I don’t pour my time and energy into writing and photographing drool-worthy tutorials or coming up with brilliant project ideas.  And I don’t spend any money on this blog.  My disposable income is for fabric!

4 – Keep your blog current.

I try very hard not to accumulate a backlog of unblogged projects because, frankly, it stresses me out!  The backlog starts to seems like work, and this blog is not my work.  If I do find myself behind, I’ll catch up in one post with just a few sentences about each project, and I move on.  Simple as that.  Besides, it’s more fun talking about what’s going on right now anyway.

5 – Get involved in the online community, but don’t over-commit yourself.

I have a handful of social media accounts that I enjoy maintaining because they let me interact with other awesome crafters, but I limit my time investment and don’t stress over my online presence.  No one is paying me to keep up a full collection of Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, BurdaStyle, and Kollabora accounts.  And it’s a lot of work to keep them up!  So I just do what feels comfortable, and leave it at that.

Final Thoughts

This minimalist approach to craft blogging certainly won’t make me a blogging superstar, propel my site to the top of the crafting world, or land me a book deal.  But I’m ok with that.  In fact, I prefer to keep this site small and comfy, like a little couch I can curl up on when I’m relaxing with a cup of coffee and a lemon ginger scone.  I don’t need any blogging-related stress… I have a full-time job for that.  : )

Do you take a minimalist approach with your blog, or do your stats keep you up at night?  : )

I’m now on the Twitter

Follow me on Twitter @AllspiceAboundsApparently I’ve gone off the deep end, because I just started a Twitter account.  Oh the humanity!  If you’d like, you can follow me @AllspiceAbounds.  I’ve added a button in the sidebar to make it easy for you to jump on the bandwagon.  : )

I’m not sure exactly what I’ll be posting there, but we can be surprised together.  Rest assured I’m not affiliated with any advertisers or anything, so it’ll just be blog-related updates and any sewing-related goodness that I’d like to share.  Hope to see you there!

A blogging award… how sweet!

Super Sweet Blogging Award

What a great way to brighten up someone’s day!  : )  I was absolutely thrilled to be nominated for the Super Sweet Blogging Award by Catriona of The Secret Life of a Crafter….  Thanks so much to Catriona for thinking of me and taking the time to nominate my little crafting blog!  It’s wonderful to hear that there are people “out there” reading about my crafting adventures, and I love that the online crafting community is so kind, helpful, and encouraging.  This award totally made my day!

Here’s how the Super Sweet Blogging Award works:

THE RULES:

Copy and paste this whole post and replace all your information – who awarded you, for example.

  1. Thank the Super Sweet Blogger that nominated you.
  2. Answer 5 Super Sweet questions.
  3. Include the Super Sweet Blogging Award in your blog post.
  4. Nominate a baker’s dozen (13) other deserving bloggers.
  5. Notify your Super Sweet nominees on their blog.

THE 5 SUPER SWEET QUESTIONS:

  1. Cookies or cake? – Usually cookies, but only because I don’t often find myself around a cake!
  2. Chocolate or vanilla? – Mmmm chocolate.
  3. Favorite sweet treat? – Tiramisu from Maria’s Pastry.  Highest rum-to-dessert ratio ever.
  4. When do you crave sweet things the most? – After dinner, and on Sunday mornings.  : )
  5. Sweet nick name? – Way to embarrassed to post that on the Internet!

And here are my nominees… congratulations, I think you and your blogs are Super Sweet!  : )

(And yes, I realize that’s less than 13 – that’s way too daunting for me!)

Congrats to all, and thank you again to Catriona for being to sweet and nominating me!

NEW – Finished Project Gallery

Finshed project gallery - screen shot

I’m excited to report that I’ve just created a Finished Project Gallery for my humble little blog.  Yay!  The gallery contains photos of my various sewing, embroidery, and other crafty projects, along with links to the corresponding blog posts.  There are permanent links to the gallery at the top of the blog (above the header) and in the sidebar under “Finished Projects.”  I hope you will check out and enjoy the new gallery!  : )

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In other news, the entire greater Boston area is under “lock down” today while police execute a massive manhunt for the 2nd suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings.  Residents are being told to stay indoors with doors locked, all local businesses are closed, and all driving and public transportation have been suspended.  I have been sitting home with the news on, waiting for more information.  We are all hoping that the situation is resolved quickly and that no more innocent civilians are hurt.  Thanks to everyone for your support and concern in this very unpredictable situation.

Crafting in a tiny apartment

My tiny apartmentMy apartment is TINY.  It’s a 300-square-foot studio in a super old building.  What can I say?  I’m a poor grad student living in crowded city.  Anyway, with this small space, how do I manage to squeeze in any crafting space without encroaching on my living space?  Well, I don’t!  Everything is multipurpose.  Above you can see my combined desk/sewing table and my combined coffee table/dining table/crafting table, and my ironing station is on the floor (via a mini ironing board) to the left of the desk.  You can also see that my tiny TV rests on a clothes dresser, and my bed is situated right in the middle of all the action.  Craziness!

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Christmas 01 - tree

It’s beginning to look pretty Christmas-y in my apartment these days, thanks to my trusty old Christmas tree and other little decorations.  Before I head home for the holidays, I thought I’d take one last look around and enjoy my festive little studio while the holiday buzz is still a-buzzin’.  : )  My Christmas tree is practically an antique (Santa used to leave *my* presents under this tree as a kid) and is decked out with some serious fiber-optic fabulousness.  Truly a sight to be seen.  A few years ago I made a bunch of handmade ornaments for it, and I’m happy to say that they’re still making me smile this year.  This tree is so me – I love it!

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